iPad in education

APphoto_LA Schools iPads

We’ve been closely following the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) iPad program over the past few months. The LAUSD is a “tastemaker” of sorts, being the second largest school district in the nation. If L.A. is successful, other districts will follow. When it comes to the iPad program, it appears that L.A. has been anything but successful.

We first heard that 300 tech savvy students had figured out a way to hack into their iPads in order to access content that should have been off limits. Then, it had come to light that 71 tablets totaling nearly $50,000 went missing. At the beginning of this month, the LAUSD decided to take back the iPads from schools. At the time of reporting, one third of the devices still had not been recovered.

Now, the L.A. Times is reporting that the iPad program is significantly more expensive than the District expected it to be. The devices are costing at least $100 more each thanks to a misunderstanding on the discount for large orders.

According to the L.A. Times, a new school district budget shows that iPads will cost $770 each. Apple’s discount on the tablets doesn’t kick in until the District buys at least 520,000 of them. That will cost approximately $400 million. In a statement to the Times, officials said that earlier cost estimates, “preceded the actual procurement process.” The District went on to say, “The negotiated discount [i.e. $678] does not go into effect until the district has reached the $400-million spending threshold.”

Additional costs that have increased since the original cost estimate include more than half a million dollars for special iPad charging carts. The District plans to postpone adding a system for online courses and will be using approximately $550,000 from the general fund to offset the impact of the loss of school construction bond money.

In the recent budget presentation, the District writes that, “we are right where we want to be,” implying that the increase in costs were to be expected. It is not unusual for actual costs to come in over budget from estimates. However, this program has seen enough problems and has received enough resistance from the community that an increase in costs is just adding fuel to the fire.

The District has proposed extending the schedule for completing the iPad program from December 2014 to December 2015 to allow for more time to complete all of the necessary upgrades and implementations for each school.